Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Follow Up With Dr Mirth

It turns out my dermatologist isn't missing his sense of humour gene.  Though to be frank, I think his timing is a little off.

At my first visit his approach was professional verging on dour.  Despite my ongoing attempts at infantile flippancy he stoically refused to take the bait and crack even the slightest smile.  Hey!  I wanted to say, as I fixed him with a pointed stare and stabbed him repeatedly in the chest with an index finger...stop being so bloody miserable and at least have the decency to acknowledge my pitiful attempts at wit.  I can't claim to be even a distant relative to Noel Coward, but you can't deny my attempts at trying.

By the time my follow up visit rolled around I was a little more preoccupied and a whole lot less cocky.  If I had been wearing boots I would have been quaking in them.  As it was, I simply sat nervously shivering in my vivid blue paper gown, wholly convinced that my detailed check up was going to reveal a body peppered with melanoma.  From the moment I had been diagnosed with melanoma - and particularly since the removal of a significant chunk of skin from my back - I had found umpteen suspicious looking legions which surely signified the beginning of the end.  There were multiple moles simply begging to be labelled with the dreaded cancer diagnosis.  Okay, so I was totally paranoid and, armed with a little bit of information, had within a matter of weeks morphed into the Internet expert on terminal skin diseases.  I knew it was only a matter of time before Dr Dour proved my suspicions to be correct - and that time was now.

So I was a little taken aback when Dr Dour breezed jauntily into the room, took one look at my dejected and forlorn little self sitting hunched in readiness for the worst prognosis, and quipped, "My!  Don't you look glamorous all decked out in blue today!  Going anywhere special?"


Er.  Not sure exactly Dr.  You tell me.  The morgue, potentially?

Taking advantage of the fact that his Dr Dour/Mr Mirth transformation had rendered me temporarily speechless he continued with his flirtatious banter.

"Yep, a strappy pair of heels and you'd have all heads turning today in that outfit.  Love the tan, by the way.  Out of a bottle I hope...phnar, phnar.  So.  How have you been?  Everything healing nicely?  Let's have a little looksy, shall we?  Check out Dr Slash'n'Sew's* handiwork."

At this point I went from flummoxed to severely irked faster than a Mclaren F1.  Hey!  I wanted to say this time...take this seriously you buffoon.  I'm dying here.  DYING I tell you.  And the last thing I need is your pathetic attempt at cheeriness to soften the blow.

Of course, I did no such thing because, despite not being a rocket scientist, I'm still intelligent enough to recognise Karma staring me full on in the face when I see it.  Go on Doc.  Knock yourself out with your little jokes.  Turn the tables on the British smart alec when you get the chance, why don't you?  Just do me the favour of cracking on with the little comedy act so we can get straight to the bad news.  There's really no amount of bonhomie today that's going to prompt any wisecracks from me when you lay the cards on the table.  I'm all out of funny, if you haven't noticed, and have been for a while.

The scar looked fine, apparently.  Healing nicely, possibly helped by the fact that the nurse had taken pains not to remove all the stitches a few days before.  Dr Mirth grabbed a pair of tweezers and, with a few sharp tugs, deftly detached them from the pieces of skin they were seemingly intent on melding to.  "Would you look at that...they almost match your eyes exactly", he commented, as he handed me a few strands of blue twine complete with blood stains and small pieces of skin still attached.  "Not sure they would compliment every outfit though, so you're probably best off without them."

Oh for God's sake...let's just get on with it, shall we?  Enough with the jolliness.  Get your bloody magnifying glass out so we can get on with the process of checking all my other mutated 'beauty spots'.  And then just tell me there a chance I am going to have any skin left?

Turns out there is.  Despite some of the moles qualifying as 'vaguely suspicious', none of them warranted the quick 1-2 with a scapel for further inspection.  I need to attend 6-monthly skin checks but at present Dr Mirth is convinced I am cancer free and - by taking proper precautions moving forward - can hopefully avoid any further instances of melanoma in the future.

I am so relieved I finally smile and go to great pains to resist the urge of planting a huge thank you smackeroo on his lips.  In a final act of gratitude I decide to leave the thwarted attempts at humour to him on this occasion.  The unexpected 'all-clear' may warrant a smile - but my ability to laugh about my first brush with the dreaded C word is still a little way off.

* not the most flattering pseudonym for my incredibly kind and experienced surgeon

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy Birthday To....Ex

So I am sitting in the midst of birthday preparation chaos - the boys going berserk decorating a card that is bigger than they are - all in honour of their dad's birthday on Friday.

I have orchestrated most of this.  Bought fantastic cards.  Ordered an original piece of artwork (one of our shared weaknesses).  Bought a book on mountain climbing.  Have a supermarket's worth of cake decorating paraphernalia on the counter.  And I want to feel great about all this.  Generous.  Thoughtful.  Want to encourage the boys to celebrate their dad's birthday and think carefully about how they can make it an extra special day.

So why does this all just serve to make me feel just a little bit...shit?

Part of me just wants to trash it all and just stuff a few dollars into a couple of crap Hallmark cards and be done with it.  Repeat the effort that was made for my birthday.  But I am above all that, aren't I?

There's no room for silly games and tit for tat in this situation.  I love birthdays.  I love celebrating birthdays.  Always have.  Always will.  And the habit of trying to make Ex's birthday special is a tough one to break.  But more than that I want to show the boys the importance of celebrating other people's birthdays and not just their own - that a little bit of thought and effort on someone elses behalf can really make that person's day.

The irony of the situation is the Ex really doesn't like to celebrate his birthday, being a sort of bah humbug birthday scrooge.  He much preferred to celebrate mine.  And boy, over the years did he set the bar high.

The first birthday we were together he surprised me with a trip to London to see the musical Rent.  Sounds normal enough, doesn't it?  Well, Ex was never a man to do things by half.  He also invited my sister and closest friends from various parts of the country, hiring a limo to take us all there and back - all as a complete surprise to me of course.  It was my first ride in a limo.  I think we made quite the impression driving through the busy streets of the west end, swigging champagne like a bunch of chavs.  Particularly when we decided to have a competition of who would be the first to do a moonie out of an open window.  (Needless to say, the birthday girl didn't win that competition - first prize as always going to my close friend K who had a penchant for getting inebriated and then airing her derriere in public places.)

Subsequent birthdays were no less spectacular.  I remember waking up one birthday to find our flat a multi-coloured ribbon present trail.  Each different coloured ribbon led to a hidden present.  Each ribbon went from room to room, all at different heights, making it impossible to navigate the space without contorting myself over and under the neon bright wrapping tape.  I would like to say it was reminiscent of the scene where Catherine Zeta Jones leaps effortlessly over lasers (in the movie that I can't be bothered to google to remember the name of)...but of course, in reality I tripped and stumbled all over the place in a combination of giggles and awe.  He went to all that effort for me.

On yet another birthday, the effort to discover my presents was less physical and more intellectually challenging.  I was given a heap of small boxes.  Well.  You can imagine my glee, as I pictured unwrapping a mountain of sparkly things to adorn myself with.  Ooh no.  His originality took a new turn that year.  Each box contained a mixture of scrabble letters.  Once I had successfully deciphered the 'code' I was 'rewarded' with the actual present.  Some of them silly, some more monumental but all of them chosen with a great deal of thought and love.

There are other examples, but already in writing this and remembering the effort this man made to make my birthdays so very special, this modicum of effort on my part (and the boys) is well deserved.   And these feelings of resentment and slight envy are so irrational anyway - it's not as if he is expecting any level of effort (or will possibly even appreciate it).

So happy birthday Ex.  Hope it's a good one.  Even if you would rather we ignored it altogether.

And I guess looking on the bright's not going to matter if I'm not in the mood for sausage on Friday because the birthday blowjob is no longer in my remit.  You see!  I am capable of seeing the silver lining. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Down...but not out

I was waiting for a day to come when I felt perky enough to write a post.   You know, relatively upbeat.  Cautiously optimistic.  But that day is yet to arrive and I can't avoid splurging any longer. 

This whole 'heavy veil of sadness' thing seems to be depleting me of everything that I once liked about myself.  My energy.  The view that my life is always glass half full.  Generally being daft.  The past four years have been so emotionally trying - and so fucking lonely - that they are causing me to doubt that I will ever be happy and carefree again.  Maybe this is just me now forever...morose, needy, exhausted, unable to see and appreciate the blessings even in challenging circumstances.  What I would do to turn back time and make different choices, to be able to take a different path than this.

I am just so very, very tired. 

I am also so very, very tearful.  Constantly.  Sometimes in front of the boys even, which I have always managed to avoid in the past.  The look of concern on their faces and the touch of their plump hands on my shoulders, around my neck or patting my back do nothing to stem the flow of emotion of course.  Bad mummy.  Bad, bad mummy.  My boys need me to be strong and resourceful and resilient.  But I am all out of those traits at the moment.  I scrabble about the bottom of my handbag, hoping to find remnants of courage and hope and laughter, but of course all I get for my troubles is a few screwed up chewing gum wrappers and the obligatory raisin. 

If only I could just stop feeling so tired. 

Mediation finally started nearly 6 weeks ago.  And in that time we have managed to attend 2 meetings, both of which were charged with tension, latent hurt and unaddressed anger, on both parts.  The 2nd meeting was particularly eventful - featuring a bun fight of such proportions that ex and I were ultimately separated.  The main bone of contention being, of course, the date of a move back to the UK.  Which, despite our agreement in February, is now not going to take place this summer.

Of course it isn't.  How silly of me to ever think he would honour his word?

I can see the sense in the decision.  We do need to take time to sort out this divorce.  I have nothing to gain in the long run from rushing decisions that will impact my future financial security and parenting responsibilities.   And I am trying to let go of the frustration that ex has deliberately stalled on attending mediation to achieve this outcome.  The man has a part-time live in girlfriend yet it is still not within his interests to divorce me.  I know why he is dragging his heels - and I know I fall pretty low down on his list of priorities.  I also know that mediation is unlikely to work simply because he has demonstrated quite clearly that he does not want to find time in his schedule to attend. 

Again - I know that none of this is through malicious intent.  But it is self-serving. And maybe I need to follow his lead and be a little more self-serving too.  Despite all the recent upheavals ex and I are still on speaking terms.  We are not friends, but we are friendly.  Things are currently amicable.  Let's hope they remain that way once I file for divorce.  I just don't see another way of finalising this chapter in my life than taking it into my own hands - and making something happen that will hopefully stop this cycle of control and manipulation.

Maybe then the panic attacks will cease.  The ability to sleep will return.  My loss of appetite will reinstate itself and, with it, the ability to do more than just splod through the motions each day with all the enthusiasm of a eunuch on a quest for a condom.  Maybe then I will get to move home. 

In the meantime, I did manage to complete one task to cheer myself up.  I have sponsored a little girl from Haiti called Lovemy.  Isn't that the most incredible name?  She is 6 years old.  So I finally have a daughter in the family.  Hopefully the first of many children from around the world.  The boys and I are currently working on our first pack of letters, drawings, photos and postcards to send her.  I already feel so much love for this smiling little girl, standing in the dust and the dirt in her clean yet worn sundress and hair braided with the big plastic bobbles that I remember from my own childhood.  Her situation certainly puts mine into perspective.  I wonder if she will ever understand what a gift she is to my life right now? 

A reminder that my life is more than just struggling to officiate the end of a relationship and move home to my family and friends.  It is also about new beginnings.  And family.  And love.  Always love.